I have been buying and collecting vinyl since my earliest recollections of school. Over the years I have played some of my albums to death, especially when I was younger. In looking at some of the albums now in my collection I sit and wonder how on earth they have managed to survive to this day. I didn't really look after them back then, and there was no other alternative to your listening pleasure other than tape cassette when that was brought into the equation. We had nothing to compare how good the music quality actually was.

Of course, many people who worked and who could afford it had better quality gear to play their records on than my Amstrad RC-15 tower unit, but other than the double cassette deck that I had in it, that was it. The dad of one of my best mates had a Bang and Olufsen Beogram Linear Tracking turntable which sounded fantastic and looked like something out of the 'Star Trek' movie, but that was the limit of my listening quality back then. What I would have given then to have something else to listen to, to save my precious vinyl wearing out at the rate it was.

Then came the advent of the CD and for a long time it looked like vinyl had had its day. A lot of albums were only issued on CD and not vinyl because CD would never fail. Apparently, when it first made its appearance, it was said that it would never depreciate in sound and that it was almost indestructible. Well, me and my mate and our two Action Men made that statement a mockery pretty fast. We drove our tanks over a CD once while we were in the park, and then took it home to play it. It was so scratched it kept jumping like a vinyl record. Who would have thought?

In today's ever technologically advancing times the choices and the ways we have to listen to our music on is quite vast, and the outlets they come on is even greater. But it seems that over the years and all the technology that has come and gone vinyl is still king. It is still the best way to listen to your music and beats any other format hands down for many reasons. Vinyl is now celebrated and worshipped better than old Queenie herself.

But there is still a couple of flaws with our wonderful vinyl. If we don't look after it, it will wear out. Its other downfall is that you can't take your vinyl out with you. You can only listen to it where there is a player. So, to counter this and give us total music, the record companies started to put something extra into the card sleeve of our beloved vinyl. A small card about the size of a business card with a code on it. A download.

So now if you want to listen to your favourite album on the move you can download it on to your phone, on to your laptop, on to your tablet or to virtually any digital appliance known to man.

For me, this was a revelation. I listen to music everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE. This was cool with me for a number of reasons. I could now take my album into the car, on to the fields with my dogs and even to the match if I wanted and it didn't cost me any more. I could also keep my vinyl pristine as I don't have to play it as much, but if I wanted that special vinyl moment that only vinyl gives you I had that too. I can't think of anything more perfect than that.

But then I found that, sadly, not every album came with a download. What was even more infuriating was that when you paid an extra fiver say for the limited edition coloured vinyl of said album it had no download. I am paying in those cases nearly thirty quid for an album that in this day and age I can only listen to at home. So, if I want to now listen to it on the go I have to buy a CD or download it separately from the likes of iTunes or, wait for it, Spotify.

But weren't we told a while back that home taping was killing music? Isn't that the same principal? Is it just me that is pissed off at spending a fortune on a piece of music that you love only to be limited where you can listen to it?

So I put it out to the masses. I asked the wonderful folk in a closed group of vinyl fanatics of which I'm a member what they thought. The results were amazing. They ranged from those who are just as despondent as me to those who would never use the download ever, even if it came free because it's not vinyl. They only ever use and play vinyl because there is only vinyl and everything else is a con, so they will never ever under any circumstances ever download a download ever! Wow! The answers came in like this:

"To be honest. I'm not bothered about the download. I have bought many records on vinyl over the last two years and never used the download codes that come with them. I keep to just listening to the records as I love the time spent picking an album out and playing it through my player. I would like, however, to ask...would it be illegal of me to sell the codes on? As I bought it and they do actually belong to me? Just a thought as I'm aware that as a download you don't actually own the music."

"They should offer a download code. I find it annoying when they don't. I listen to vinyl at home but when I'm not at home then I use digital. It's why buying vinyl on Amazon is nice. A lot of vinyl comes with their autorip so you get a download the album."

"Bought an $80 vinyl set and now I have to spend another $15 to get a digital copy. Makes me wanna 'acquire' it with others means."

"I just recently found about 75 albums downloaded to my Kindle from Amazon purchases. Which shows you how often I utilize downloads. If home it’s vinyl or nothing, if on the road it’s CDs in my truck."

"Since I got me a cellphone that has all my downloads on for as little space on it as a cream cracker in an aircraft hanger I play music off my phone. When at home I play my vinyl. My point is I can't play my vinyl in the truck..."

"I don’t follow. People buy vinyl for the vinyl experience. But a downloaded code should be included. We are already paying more than a CD (which is super easy to rip) or digitally."

"I don't mind the download. Most of time I don't use it."

"I wish they all came with a download, but it does not affect my purchase decisions. I buy based on the music."

DAVE GOODWIN: But when do you stop buying vinyl again because you can only play it on your turntable when you get home?

"For me, it doesn't. I still buy CDs as well, depending on the artist. Some artists I collect on vinyl, some others I buy the CD. I have a large collection, so there's always something to listen to in whatever format I have available if that makes sense."

DG: How, however, do you listen to music when you are on the move? i.e. walking the dog? Assuming you have a dog? Ha ha!

"No dog, ha ha ha...I use CDs and an iPod touch with MP3s when in the car. iPod touch with MP3s when out and about. Have a turntable in the house along with multiple CD/DVD/Blu Ray players. Never use MP3s in the house, generally just CDs and vinyl.

"Seems any record company would want to provide the most access to their artist's music as possible - especially for paying customers of new physical product. So I more or less expect to see a download code somewhere. That being said, it does not bother me if they do not provide one. Has no impact on my decision to buy."

DG: So, it stands to reason that if you don't mind then it wouldn't matter if they included it in every album? What do you think?

"It would not matter to me personally but they (the record companies/artists) would be shooting themselves in the foot I think by not providing some sort of digital access to the product a customer just purchased."

"The download is nice, but not necessary."

"I have a stack of them. They are a pain in the neck. I could care less. That’s why I have Spotify. It was better when they gave you a free CD with the LP."

DG: So do you pay for the Spotify privilege?

"Sure do pay! Love the service!

DG: So you pay for the album and also pay for the download from Spotify? That is interesting. I have no idea how much Spotify costs to be honest.

"Spotify is a streaming service. It’s $15 a month. They currently are responsible for about 30% of global record industry revenue."

DG: Okay so do you buy vinyl and then download the album as well then?

"I’m not downloading anything really. I’m streaming the album from Spotify in my car. Playing the vinyl at my house."

"I pay for Spotify premium to stream music. Vinyl is about the albums that are special for me. So most albums I buy on vinyl I could listen to on Spotify (some vintage country stuff I love isn't on Spotify) but I want to have them on vinyl because the whole thing is a different or has more special vibe."

"Couldn't care less. Too much of a hassle for a PC novice like myself to rip a copy on a 10 year old PC. Also some of them require you to join their site/club which just means more unwanted e-mails."

"Not bothered with the download at all."

"Not interested in downloading."

"It's a really interesting question. I personally believe it to be vitally important. I am involved in a B2B conference called "makingvinyl" We have ran two conferences in Detroit over the last couple of years and are now going to do one in Berlin in May 2019 for the European manufacturing side."

If it’s a new artists release, I kind expect that it will come with a digi download, I’ve bought a few lately that didn’t and have to say I was a bit bummed."

"Me too, I have to admit. You buy the vinyl copy without the download so how do you listen to the music on your phone? Guess what? You download it from iTunes or elsewhere and it's just cost you more for that album."


So after much debate and to-ing and fro-ing I threw another conundrum into the mix...

DG: Okay, let me throw this into the debate. I have bought a lot of vinyl recently and found that you can buy from places like Amazon and even the band/artist's website a 'bundle' that gets you the album and the CD for approximately £3 to £4 extra? So why can't they stick the download in with it instead?

"Plan B's album 'Heaven Before All Hell' didn't come with a download, so I messaged them. Apparently it's down to the label not the artist."

"Yes. No. Yes and No. Dunno what should and should not be. I wish I did."

"I do know one thing. Preconceived ideas will always let you down."

"Exactly. It’s a nice bonus, as are CD copies. But I don’t expect to pay extra for a download. Some records have been artificially inflated in price for them. I don’t use them as I subscribe to Apple Music, but I give them to friends for an introduction to music new to them."

"That is interesting. Wish I had friends like you! You always use iTunes?"

"Not anymore. I use Apple Music to download new-to-me stuff, to gauge whether it’s worth getting on vinyl. Plus I fill up my phone with other music. Vinyl is my go-to, but having a phone full of music comes in handy."

"I don't want to pay extra for it. I really don't use them. If they are there it's cool. Most times I give them away."

"I avoid vinyl purchases when they DON'T have digicards."

"I pay for Spotify premium so vinyl for me is a special outlet for my must have albums. The capacity for a digital download has no impact for me when buying vinyl.
There are Vinyl Fanatics and Vinyl Sound Fanatics. Vinyl Fanatics love the 'Vinyl Experience', which is taking the vinyl out the sleeve, putting it on the turntable, watching the stylus ride the groove, getting up from the listening position to flip the LP, reading the liner notes, fondling with the album art, then storing the LPs vertically, collecting more and more, once in a while cleaning the LPs. On the contrary Vinyl Sound Fanatics are okay with downloading the HIRES Vinyl rips from online and playing it through stand alone DAC to get the same vinyl analog warmth (no digital harshness or rightness), without having the so called "vinyl experience". (The digi download that comes with vinyl is lousy MP3 crap)."

"I have a stack of digital downloads. Unused. I just listen to the vinyl. So, I couldn't care less about the download."

"I buy for the vinyl not the digi download."

"There are rights issues involved with digital downloads (it costs the labels to include)."

"True. Has to be unless they do the whole thing. Go to label's website. I’m referring to reissue labels in this instance."

"Yes if the label is getting paid. All that matters. They pay artists. All is good. These own the rights to their recordings. Unless they sell their rights like the Beatles did."

"Until recently I didn’t even release I got the digital download with new vinyl. I have been purchasing most vintage vinyl so it doesn’t have any. I wouldn’t pay extra for the download as we have a turntable with USB, LOL. Haven’t been concerned with album cost to be honest."

"I won’t buy a new LP if it doesn’t come with a download card. For what they charge they should throw a CD copy in."

"If I have analogue, I don't want digital!"

"Yes, I was disappointed the the new Florence + The Machine didn't. I want to listen in the car and the days of cassettes are gone!"

"I listen to cassettes every day in my jeep. Find some blanks."

"Not bothered about downloads. I buy vinyl because it sounds the best to me."

"Yes. I still want to take my music with me."

"No. I listen to vinyl because I don't want to do downloads. I still use CDs in the car. Downloads are never considered when I buy vinyl. If it comes with one I most likely leave it in the sleeve, or put it aside."

"I have never downloaded any from the records I bought. All the download vouchers are intact."

"I've never spent the time to use any downloads."

"I couldn't care less about downloading anything, ever."

"I personally buy vinyl for vinyl...downloads are not part of the equation."

"I'm not trying to find out if people prefer the vinyl experience to say the CD or the Download Jeffrey. That's a given. Vinyl wins hands down. What I'm trying to ascertain is what people find is value for money for the price of that album. The price of vinyl is shooting up since we as the buying public voted with our pennies that we preferred to go back to vinyl. Okay, so if that last album you bought goes up to lets say £30 for it would you expect to have the download card in it that seems to cost bugger all? I like to play my vinyl but also I like to preserve it so when I'm, say, cooking in the kitchen I listen to the download of that album on my laptop or phone through a Bluetooth speaker hidden in the kitchen."

"Let's look at coloured vinyl - apparently it costs the same to produce as black vinyl but a coloured disc will cost you around a fiver more for the privilege. Vinyl for me is the best thing since sliced bread and I want to be able to afford to buy it for as long as I'm able to. I don't care if there is a download or not on the new LPs. I have a large digital library as well but if the new LP does not have a digital file it is not a deal breaker for me. What is important is the quality of the vinyl, the packaging presentation (cover, sleeves and labels) and how and where the music was mastered...was it from analogue or a compressed digital file?"

"Even as you have said this, the digital download option does nothing for me. I prefer to buy used vinyl in VG condition or better. When I do buy new, it’s all older music. Rarely does that come with a digital download option. Even if it did have a download option, I’d never use it."

"Vinyl should come with a download. Especially now that vinyl is typically almost two x price of CD version."

"A digital download should come as standard with all new vinyl in my opinion so you can listen via the comfort of you own home on your record player and on the move."

"I think all vinyl should come with a digital download - regardless of price."

"I buy vinyl but haven’t used a digital download code for about two years now - I buy the vinyl but stream on Spotify when I’m out and about."

"I always expect a digital download with vinyl these days."

"Can't play vinyl in the car so I would expect a download code. I just bought Dead Can Dance on vinyl with no digital download...I need a better record player."

"Always a welcome bonus to get download."


As you can see, every permutation of an answer came back but the fanatics I reckon, were leaning towards not really caring about the download because they love the vinyl and only the vinyl. I suppose that is to be expected, so I decided to put it out to another well respected group of people. I put it out to the Facebook page members of an online music magazine by the name of Pennyblackmusic. Here's their verdict...

DG: Hi all. Some questions for you to think about and feed back.
1. When buying vinyl would you automatically think that it will come with a digi download due to the price of the album?
2. Do you not buy the vinyl if it doesn't come with the download?
3. If you paid over say £20 for the album would you expect it to come with the download?
4.Should the album come with the download as standard?
Any thoughts, please. I'm not asking which sounds better. Vinyl wins hands down. It's purely what you think is value For money. What do you think?

"Always a digital download. There’s no substitute for vinyl in the comfort of your home, but as we all listen to music on more than one platform now it’s totally necessary. You can’t play your vinyl on the way to work."

"All vinyl should come with a digital download...or a free or discounted ticket next time the band comes to your town."

"Buy vinyl- like getting a digital code but to be honest never use them."

"I think a digital download should be available with all vinyl purchases, providing the product is available in that format."

"Not having a download hasn’t prevented me buying vinyl, although sometimes I will buy the CD especially if it is raining and I don’t have a bag."

"I buy vinyl but haven’t used a digital download code for about two years now - I buy the vinyl but stream on Spotify when I’m out and about."

"I always expect a digital download with vinyl these days."

"I used to care deeply about downloads being available, but have lately just embraced the physical product, as well as streaming. The fact that iTunes has become basically unusable as a means to get files onto a device has a LOT to do with this."

"I don't care about downloads as a customer, but would probably offer it with my next release."

"A digital download should come as standard with all new vinyl in my opinion so you can listen via the comfort of your own home on your record player and on the move."

"I think all vinyl should come with a digital download - regardless of price."

"I think a digital download should be available with all vinyl purchases, providing the product is available in that format."


A unanimous win for the download included, methinks there. It's not about the money for me. It's about being able to save the treasured vinyl for a rainy day when you REALLY want to listen to it in pure indulgence. I can listen to the best format ever, but if I want to I can also listen to it on the go which may not be the best quality but it hasn't cost me any extra to do it. I hate paying, say, £30 for a record and then not being able to listen to it on my phone or in the car but I absolutely love vinyl, so I'm going to always buy it as a first option.

So what do I do? If I can't get the album I want from FOPP, I always try to buy from the artist's website and get it delivered. If I can't, I buy it from the label. If I can't do that, I buy from Amazon for a physical copy of the album.

Food for thought before you go...Spotify says that its average payout for a stream to labels and publishers is between $0.006 and $0.0084, and a real survey suggests that the average payment to an artist from the label portion of that is $0.001128 – this being what a signed artist receives after the label's share.

The artist gets 0.013p for every stream of the album at Deezer. If an artist sells their own album direct they get 100% of the deal. An album download on iTunes makes them a whopping $2.30, and they would have to shift over 500 copies a month just to break even with the USA's monthly minimum wage. Similarly a single download will get the artist a mindblowing 23p with them having to sell nearly 5500 to make that minimum wage!

If you download the album from Bandcamp you are making your artist around £7.50 per album.

If you download it from iTunes you are making them around £2.00 per album. Every time you stream that album on the likes of Spotify you get them £0.007p.













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